A computer programmer in Scotland. Available for hire through JMB Technology. Works on the Open Source community calendar project OpenACalendar which is used for OpenTechCalendar and more.







Are you doing a church website? UI protip

1 min read

I've been looking at a lot recently (guess who tends to hold hustings) and the number that don't have the actual full address and postcode of the church is crazy. A lot have the full address for the office, with no indication if that is also the address of the church or not. I guess they assume anyone looking at their website already knows where it is - but great way to reach out to new people, organisations that are currently worrying about a lack of new people!

Mind you, I've long been of the opinion that any website for a physical place (church,restaurant, whatever) that doesn't have a big "How to find us" menu option that links to a page with a map, address, public transport and parking notes, etc was designed by morons.



20 days to election. http://democraticdashboard.com/ added @MeetYourNextMP, 750 hustings in 230 seats, 2500 sessions yesterday, over 100,000 pageviews in total & first hustings in Orkney!


Harry had made many enemies in life ...


Walk home


Small place Edinburgh. Overhear snippet from next table, realise A) know what project it is and B) worked for it before


Just got my first election leaflet! https://electionleaflets.org/leaflets/9453/ Upload any you get here, let's build up an archive.


#ge2015 election project @meetyournextmp looking good, 30 days to election!

2 min read

For the General election I'm working on MeetYourNextMP with the other volunteers from Democracy Club. This site, using the community calendar software I work on (OpenACalendar), lists indepedent hustings around the UK.

There were several new challenges to work on for this project, and to launch really quickly I just forked the code base and hacked any changes I needed directly into the core system! This was great, but after the site was live for a week I had to spend a horrible few days picking the changes apart and pushing some back to the Open Source core, pushing some changes to a extension just for this site and in some cases making the core more extendable to accomodate that. I'm pleased to say MeetYourNextMP is now run directly from the latest Open Source code from OpenACalendar with an extension and after the election there will be a new release of OpenACalendar (and the sites that run on that like OpenTechCalendar) with all kinds of goodies.

MeetYourNextMP is doing well, listing over 540 events in over 240 seats. It's had great feedback and has been listed by all kinds of people like Citizens Advice Bureau, MIND for better mental health, The Campaign against the Arms tradeMacMillian Cancer Support and more.

It's now 30 days to the election, and I'm not sure what that will bring for the site. I think it's clear that there is already enought evidence to say both that some things have worked really well and that people really want a site like this, and they really want it to work well - for a first try at this that's a great outcome. For me personally, it'll be a tiring crazy month and I'll be glad when it's over!


Dead Grass, Live Insect

Landed on fake grass at cafe today. Kept trying to hide under my shoe or bag. I think it's wing was wrong; I suspect it may not last long :-(


Moving from WordPress to Known

2 min read

First post actually from Known; how I moved!

Firstly, install Known as normal and use the new WordPress importer to import your blog. It doesn't handle comments; but I decided I didn't care. I also noticed some unicode errors but only a few - I'll fix them by hand.

First problem; my blog contains images in the /wp-content/uploads folder. That's ok tho; I just copied the wp-content/uploads folder into the Known root directory. The default .htaccess rules already will allow traffic to there.

Second problems; not breaking incoming links to my posts (I decided I didn't care about other incoming links). For this, I had to add extra Rewrite rules.

My old blog has links of the type /2014/01/post, and this needs to map to /2014/post. At first I thought I could write a clever rule but then I realised that the slug is not always the same - /2013/09/days-since-idea/ on my WordPress blog maps to /2013/idea-days-since-service in Known.

So I fell back to the "do it by hand" method; basically writing a seperate redirect for each one. Good thing I don't have many. Here's a sample:

RewriteRule ^2014/08/learn-tech-edinburgh/$ /2014/learn-tech-edinburgh [R,L]
RewriteRule ^2014/04/open-source-projects-and-git-self-hosting/$ /2014/open-source-projects-and-git-self-hosting [R,L]

The R flag means Redirect so the user sees the new URL and L means Last rule - so it won't try to match any more rules.

I think .... that's it done?


I hope people use Twitter less

2 min read

Alex Gaynor wrote this great piece "I Hope Twitter Goes Away". I agree with a lot of what he says.

His basic argument is that Twitter is all about Broadcast, and the side effects that has. This makes communities and genuine discussion very hard, and makes abuse more likely.

But I don't want Twitter to go away; in some specific cases it's really good. At conferences, the broadcast of random information that is immediately useful and thoughts can really help people know whats going on and feel involved. In general, passing round the headlines of what news and new blog posts people think are interesting is good. And some of the bad jokes are pretty good.

But I do want people to use it much less.

I find it really odd when someone gives a talk and they only have a Twitter handle as a contact detail on their slides. Why not an email address? (This especially applies at the more Open Source orientated events. "We want freedom from central control .... unless you want to contact me!").

I find it really odd when people refer to themselves by a Twitter handle.

I hate getting into any serious discussion longer than a few tweets back and forth.

And after saying it can be good as a Broadcast medium, not always - I hate it when Twitter is the only broadcast and communication medium someone uses.

I guess you could also read this as an apology for my own Twitter account. I feel I use it as a broadcast tool only, and it's not very interesting. I'll try to blog more instead ...